World Two dead after apartment buildings collapse in rain-soaked BrazilAllison JACKSON, Eugenia LOGIURATTO•The unusually heavy rain that struck the Rio de Janeiro region triggered flash flooding that turned some streets into raging rivers, gushing through ground-level homes and businesses and weakening structures (AFP Photo/Miguel SCHINCARIOL)Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – At least two people were killed when adjacent apartment buildings collapsed in an impoverished neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro on Friday, Brazilian officials said, days after torrential rain wreaked havoc in the city.Another seven were injured when the structures in the Muzema favela — where many of the cheaply-made buildings are erected without permits — buckled in the early morning when people would have been asleep or having breakfast.”My daughter was having breakfast and she shouted `mum it’s falling, it’s falling`,” Juliana Carvalho, 34, who lives across the street, told reporters.”We thought the cliff above was falling but in fact it was the building collapsing. We ran and didn’t look back.”As anxious relatives and friends waited on the road that had been torn up by Monday´s downpour, dozens of rescue workers searched for survivors with the help of sniffer dogs.Helicopters took some of the wounded to hospital, while others were carried out on stretchers to pickup trucks belonging to emergency services.”We are working tirelessly,” firefighter Marcelo Gisler told reporters as bottled water was carried up the hill to rescuers working in intense heat and humidity.G1 news site put the death toll at three, but officials could not confirm the figure.Sections of road leading up the hill to the collapsed buildings, which were at the foot of a sheer cliff face, had been washed away by the unusually heavy rain, complicating rescue efforts.Officials said they did not know how many people lived in the buildings and were relying on relatives and neighbors to report who was missing.”I’m waiting for news of my two sisters and my brother-in-law,” said Francisco Ferreira, 40, who lives nearby.Others expressed frustration that they had received no news about their loved ones, hours after the buildings collapsed.Like many poor neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro, Muzema is run by shadowy militias that use violence to enforce their rule.They sell land rights and control access to city services such as water and electricity.Many of the buildings are poorly constructed without permission from city planning authorities.”We are going to have to demolish the neighboring buildings and try to prevent this urban disorder happening again,” Rio de Janeiro vice governor Claudio Castro told reporters.”We need to save people’s lives and not let this happen again.”- ‘Abandoned’ -But residents complained that Muzema and surrounding neighborhoods had long been neglected by the Rio de Janeiro government.As soon as illegal buildings were demolished, new ones were built in their place, said Solo Melo, 32, who lives down the street from the collapsed buildings.”This is not about suffering, it’s about being abandoned,” he told AFP.Friday’s tragedy capped a deadly week in Rio de Janeiro. At least 10 people were killed in torrential rain on Monday and Tuesday that turned some streets into raging rivers, toppled trees and swept away vehicles.A day before the storm, a man was shot dead in a hail of bullets fired by soldiers as he drove his family to a baby shower.The military patrol had been on the look-out for criminals and shot Evaldo dos Santos Rosa´s vehicle by mistake.
Two dead after buildings collapse in militia-controlled Rio neighborhoodBy Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Pedro Fonseca•A man on a stretcher is carried to a helicopter after a building collapsed in Muzema community, Rio de Janeiro A man on a stretcher is carried to a helicopter after a building collapsed in Muzema community, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Ricardo MoraesBy Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Pedro Fonseca RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – At least two people died and two more were injured when two unlicensed buildings in a militia-controlled outer borough of Rio de Janeiro collapsed on Friday, just days after deadly rains caused chaos in Brazil’s second largest city.It was unclear why the four-story buildings, located in the western neighborhood of Itanhangá, collapsed. Locals said at least four families were living in the buildings, which were undergoing construction. An unknown number of people were still missing, locals and officials said.”Two people were injured and two were killed, and teams are on the scene looking for survivors who may be buried,” a fire department spokesman said.The mayor’s office said the two buildings were irregular constructions, which had not been authorized. Brazilian cities underwent rapid and mostly unplanned urbanization in the last six decades, giving rise to vast shantytowns, erected haphazardly without adhering to building codes.Powerful militias – originally created to defend inhabitants from drug gangs, but which now act as fearsome local crime outfits – have a strong presence in the neighborhood where the buildings collapsed. Militias often control gas and electricity services, but now make huge profits by stealing land and illegally selling it for construction projects.”As (the region) is dominated by militias, the technicians of the municipal inspection office usually require the support of the military police to carry out inspections there,” the mayor’s office said in a statement, adding that it had shuttered several unauthorized constructions nearby last November.A man who said he was a resident in one of the buildings told reporters that he made it out after hearing a snap.”I managed to escape, but there were people left behind,” said the man, who declined to give his name.The buildings collapsed just days after Rio de Janeiro was hit by record rains that caused severe damage across the city. At least 10 people died in the storm on Monday night, which led city authorities to declare a state of emergency.(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca, Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Gabriel Stargardter in Rio de Janeiro; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
(Updates magnitude, tsunami warning)By Jessica Damiana and Fransiska Nangoy JAKARTA, April 12 (Reuters) – Indonesia issued a tsunami warning on Friday, urging people to evacuate to higher ground after an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck off the coast of its island of Sulawesi.Indonesia suffered its highest death toll in natural disasters in more than a decade last year, following two major tsunamis and several earthquakes, with more than 3,000 killed in Palu, also in Central Sulawesi, the site of Friday’s earthquake.”It is clear that the quake has tsunami potential,” said geophysics agency spokesman Taufan Maulana. Residents are advised to evacuate as soon possible.”The agency is monitoring for high waves as the quake had the potential to trigger a tsunami, it added.”The first wave may not be the biggest,” it said in a statement.There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the quake, which hit 280 km (174 miles) south of the province of Gorontalo at a depth of 43 km (27 miles), the agency added. The quake was „strong and long lasting,” Gina Saerang, a resident of Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province, several hundred kilometers from the epicenter, said on social media. (Editing by Darren Schuettler and Clarence Fernandez)
Some residents of Luwuk fled their homes for high ground after the disaster agency issued a brief tsunami warning
Some panicked residents of a quake-hit Indonesian island have refused to return home after the tremor triggered a brief tsunami warning and fears there was more to come, the disaster agency said Saturday.
Aftershocks rippled across the east coast of Sulawesi — an island where thousands were killed in a quake-tsunami last year — as officials scrambled to assess whether there are any casualties or major damage.
While one resident of quake-hit Luwuk city reportedly died after falling while trying to flee, the agency has not reported any confirmed deaths or injuries.
An AFP reporter in the city said there were no signs of major property damage.
„The situation is returning to normal,” the disaster agency said early Saturday morning.
Some 1,300 families have returned home, it said, adding that some residents of another small island near the epicentre of Friday’s 6.8 magnitude quake were still refusing to return from higher ground.
It did not say how many residents had refused to leave the high ground.
Luwuk resident Emiliana Rumayer said she and her family slept in the hills overnight „but we’ve now returned home”.
Mohammad Sholeh, police chief of Poso city on Sulawesi, said the quake’s impact there had been minor.
„There’s a little bit of damage, but nothing significant and there are no casualties,” he said.
On Friday, a tsunami warning was issued for coastal communities in Morowali district, where residents were advised to move away from the coast.
The warning was later lifted by the disaster agency, which had estimated the wave at under a half a metre (20 inches).
Video footage from Luwuk showed scared residents — some carrying children — running from their homes and racing to higher ground on motorcycles.
The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 17 kilometres (10 miles) off Sulawesi, where a 7.5-magnitude quake-tsunami around the city of Palu killed more than 4,300 people last year.
Residents of Palu, which is hundreds of kilometres away from Friday’s epicentre, still felt the quake.
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
On Boxing Day 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck westernmost Aceh province, causing a tsunami and killing more than 170,000 in Indonesia.
Last year Indonesia experienced more than 2,500 disasters ranging from a series of deadly earthquakes to killer landslides and volcanic eruptions.
CHICAGO (Reuters) – A second „bomb cyclone” blizzard hitting the United States was limiting the movement and processing of corn, soybeans and wheat around the Midwest and Plains on Thursday.
Grain trader Cargill Inc said it was closing three of its grain handling facilities in Minnesota, two in South Dakota and one in Nebraska on Thursday because of the storm. It also was closing a beef processing plant in Colorado.
Rival Archer Daniels Midland Co temporarily closed several grain and edible bean elevators in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin due to the snow.
The storm was dumping more than a foot of heavy snow and winds were gusting up to 65 miles (105 km) per hour by midday across northeast Colorado north up through northern Wisconsin, the National Weather Service said.
The high winds also were deterring farmers from pulling crops out of their on-farm storage facilities even in areas where local elevators and processors were open, grain dealers said.
Ranchers around the region were scrambling to keep their herds safe from the snow and wind, which was particularly threatening to young calves.
The storm, which comes as many farmers are still cleaning up from severe floods following a similar storm in March, also threatened to delay planting of U.S. corn and soybeans in the coming weeks as it will leave behind saturated fields after the snow melts.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a Thursday news conference he had spoken to lawmakers about disaster relief legislation. The Agriculture Department currently has no program to cover the catastrophic losses of grains in storage from the widespread flooding.
„That’s not one of those products that’s insured once it’s out of the field,” Perdue said. „I think those are the kind of considerations we should look to.”
The department separately announced on Thursday emergency grazing measures in Iowa to help livestock producers who lost pastures or fences in recent bad weather.
Lawmakers from Nebraska and Iowa jointly announced a disaster relief bill that would allow early withdrawals from retirement accounts and tax deductions, among other measures.
(Reporting by Mark Weinraub and Tom Polansek in Chicago and Chris Prentice in Washington; Editing by Caroline Stauffer, Phil Berlowitz and James Dalgleish)
Over 3.9 million residents of the Plains and the Midwest got a surprise this week, as a rare inland spring snowstorm slammed parts of six states, including Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.
The storm, named Wesley by The Weather Channel, brought dangerous winds, heavy snowfalls, hail risk, downed powerlines, flooding and even thunderstorms and tornado warnings in some areas.
Its mixture of snow and ice created a travel nightmare, leading to traffic accidents and the cancellation of more than 3,000 flights nationwide, NBC News reported.
Several stretches of interstate highways were closed on Thursday — including Interstate 80 (in western Nebraska), Interstate 90 (in South Dakota, from Rapid City to Sioux Falls), Interstate 29 (from Sioux Falls in eastern South Dakota to the North Dakota border) and Interstate 70 (from the Kansas border to east of Denver, Colorado).
“Roads are becoming impassable,” the National Weather Service said. “Unless you are experiencing an emergency, please stay off the roads.”
In Minnesota alone, state patrolmen had responded to at least 213 crashes, CNN reported.
This is the second time in four weeks these areas have been hit. Just last month, a bomb cyclone hit many of these same areas, including Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.
As of late Wednesday, the snowfall totals were staggering and are only expected to climb. Here are the numbers, according to The Weather Channel:
- Colorado: 9.5 inches in Winter Park
- Minnesota: 7 inches near New Prague; 4.2 inches in Minneapolis
- Montana: 23 inches at Badger Pass
- South Dakota: 18 inches in Dupree
- Utah: 13 inches at Snowbird Ski Resort
- Wisconsin: 4.5 inches near Wheeler; 3.5 inches in La Crosse
- Wyoming: 18 inches near Wheeler; 6 inches in Gillette
It happened fast, too, with the snow falling at 3 inches per hour in certain areas, NBC News reported.
Strong winds have been just as shocking. In parts of Colorado, 107 mph wind gusts were recorded in Pueblo West, The Weather Channel reported. Texas saw 88 mph wind gusts, while they hit 77 mph in areas of New Mexico and 66 mph in parts of Nevada.
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Months after it flew as far away as Turkey’s border with Syria, a griffon vulture from Serbia has come home.
The one-year-old female bird named Dobrila from the central Serbian nature reserve of Uvac was flown home Friday in a joint effort by Serbia and Turkey.
It is not clear why Dobrila wandered so far away but officials say she was apparently unable to come back home.
There are about 500 griffon vultures in the Uvac reserve. The birds are considered a protected species in Serbia.
„This is a very important moment for us,” said Serbian Environment Minister Goran Trivan. „The most important thing is that she is well.”
Turkey’s ambassador in Serbia Tanju Bilgic explained that Turkish soldiers first found Dobrila in late-2018 near the Syrian border when it was treated by veterinarians and set free.
But, he said, shepherds soon after found the bird suffering from cold, some 120 kilometers (72 miles) away, when it became clear it was unable to fly back.
„I am very happy to witness that our operation has been very successful,” he said.
The world was mesmerized this week by the first-ever image of a black hole , captured by a network of eight linked telescopes known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration.
But in the days since, attention has turned to a second image: That of the 29-year-old woman who made it all possible.
Computer scientist Dr. Katie Bouman has been credited with leading the creation of an algorithm that successfully photographed the halo of dust and gas situated 500 million trillion kilometers from Earth.
A photo of Bouman bracing herself for the groundbreaking release has been widely shared on social media.
In a post on her Facebook account , the young scientist wrote: „Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed.”
Bouman started work on the computer program three years ago, while she was a graduate student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
While there, she was responsible for leading the project, with assistance from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the MIT Haystack Observatory.
The algorithm was then used to render data captured by the EHT to render the millions of gigabytes of data it has collected during its decade-long mission to photograph the black hole.
„When we saw it for the first time, we were all in disbelief. It was quite spectacular,” Bouman told BBC Radio 5 live.
Following the release of the image, Bouman has received international plaudit for her years-long work — including from celebrities and politicians.
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a vocal proponent of women in leadership, praised Bouman’s „enormous contribution to the advancements of science and mankind.”
Cortez tweet: Take your rightful seat in history, Dr, Bouman!
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump tweeted: „Big congrats! Hooray for #WomenInSTEM like Bouman!”
Ivanka tweet: Today, the world saw the 1st-ever image of a #BlackHole – an amazing accomplishment made possible by Scientist Katie Bouman.
Bouman, who is now an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences at the California Institute of Technology, was keen to point out the shared input of her colleagues.
„No one of us could do it alone,” she told CNN.
The efforts to capture the image involved a team of more than 200 scientists in locations across the globe. Bouman’s was one of a number of algorithms used to piece together the images captured by the network of telescopes.
Yet her method of processing the data — which involved multiple algorithms with „different assumptions build into them” — was said to be instrumental.
„(Bouman) was a major part of one of the imaging subteams,” said Vincent Fish, a research scientist at MIT’s Haystack Observatory.
Her contribution was also hailed by MIT and the Smithsonian on social media.
„3 years ago MIT grad student Katie Bouman led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first-ever image of a black hole,” MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab wrote.
In a separate video on her Instagram page, Bouman noted: „This is … the beginning of being able to have another window into what black holes can tell us about our laws and physics.”
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